Gone are the days when drug traffickers and other criminals could smoothly run their businesses under the guise of anonymity that they enjoyed in the dark web.
Last week, a former nightclub manager at Indianapolis was sentenced to more than 15.5 years in prison for distributing heroin and cocaine, in addition to conspiracy to launder money via dark web.
According to the federal authorities, Pierre Burnett Jr. was a drug kingpin in an operation that distributed heroin and cocaine.
He carried out his trade using Bitcoin on the darknet. Pierre was a former manager at Epic Ultra Lounge, a club located on the northeastern side of Indianapolis.
In a statement confirming the sentence, U.S. Attorney Joshua J. Minkler said that criminals’ time for hiding behind the anonymity of the dark web is over.
He also reaffirmed how serious his office is about flushing out individuals involved in cyber crime in all its many forms.
He vows to prosecute as many of dark web criminals as he can.
Minkler’s office said that Burnett dealt with Mexican sources prior to his arrest.
He bought cocaine and heroin from them before distributing it to drug dealers in Ohio and Indiana.
A news release said that during the conspiracy, Burnett was able to distribute at least 55 pounds of cocaine and 35 pounds of heroin.
Chain of Distribution
After acquiring the drug from his Mexican sources, the 44-year-old Pierre Burnett Jr., who also goes by the name “Doe,” would sell it to Lee Gray of Camby, Indiana.
Gray would then sell it for digital currency on the darknet market known as the Silk Road before selling it to other dark web sites.
After receiving the drugs, Gray would ship them through the U.S. Postal Services to his customers throughout the country.
He would later use foreign exchange services to launder the Bitcoin he earned.
Gray then deposited the money in his numerous bank accounts.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) carried out an investigation that saw Gray indicted in 2015.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin, intent to distribute, and money laundering in December 2015.
He will be sentenced on October 4, 2017.
Burnett was also selling the drugs to Alan Duncan, otherwise known as “Al Gore,” who limited his drug trading activities to Ohio.
Minkler’s office confirmed that Duncan was sentenced to 12.5 years in federal prison.
How the Dark Web Works
The dark web is a hidden part of the internet that is only accessible to users using certain types of browsers.
It is home to thousands of sites—most of them are encrypted and only accessible to users who know how to find and access them.
Their level of encryption (secured through a technical process before entering the dark web) is what helps users hide their identity and, therefore, they can easily carry out their illicit businesses without fear of being caught by the authorities.
In October 2013, however, the popular darknet market Silk Road was shut down by federal law enforcement.
The shutdown of the dark website, and the conviction of the drug lords dealing on the site, is a clear indication of the effort authorities are making when it comes to putting an end to darknet trades.
Apart from the three organizations that spearheaded the investigation and conviction of Burnett, the U.S Attorney’s Office for the South District of Ohio and the Dayton Office DEA also played assisting roles in the investigation.
This case was an example of multiple organizations that are determined to work together to ensure that darknet drug trafficking ends.
Commitment to End Dark Web Markets
According to DEA Assistant Special Agent Greg Westfall, the DEA is committed to saving lives through identifying, disrupting and dismantling all criminal drug organizations that are responsible for poisoning the community with heroin and fentanyl.
He further added that the DEA was ready to exhaust all its resources and work with partners to bring to justice all the criminals who evade law enforcement.
He showed confidence that when law enforcement works together with its partners, they will prevail in detecting those who try to hide their criminal activities online.
Cynthia Mormon, acting special agent in the U.S Postal Inspection Services, added that the service took the mission to deter illegal use of the postal services very seriously.
She noted the negative impact those criminal activities had on the community, and that is why they’re committed to working with the authorities to help identify, investigate and bring to justice those involved.
Indianapolis nightclub manager was sentenced to 15.5 years in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine using the dark web.